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Who should admit they were wrong about COVID-19?
Lockdown extremists and their cult must acknowledge the harm they caused and the lives they destroyed.
COVID-19 has inflicted a terrible cost on the American people. Over one million people have died from the novel coronavirus, a death toll far greater than any war we have fought since the founding of the nation. A number of conservatives (including conservative Christians) dismissed the danger of COVID-19 and were belligerent with public health authorities. Considering how COVID-19 is a leading cause of death, and the catastrophic number of total deaths, should the belligerators now admit they were wrong?
Yes, but admission of wrong must be done on both sides. Public health authorities displayed plenty of error and plenty of bad faith over the last two and a half years, and their sycophants in the chattering class and panic-mongers on social media were even worse.
Far too many people refused to acknowledge the data that showed children were at much lower risk of severe COVID-19 than adults. They refused to recognize the data that showed all adults were by no means equally vulnerable to the disease. Senior citizens were the most vulnerable, along with people with compromised immune systems or other co-morbidities. The survival rate was 99.98% for healthy adults under 50 years old in the fall of 2020, and this was before vaccines were available. The stubborn refusal to recognize these facts as documented by our own Centers for Disease Control fed conspiracy theories and distrust of public health authorities, and they can blame themselves for that.
Before panic became the rule of the day, the Washington Post published these two quotes:
"This looks to be a bad, heightened cold — I think that's a rational way of thinking about it,"
"About 82 percent of the cases... have been mild, with symptoms that require little or no medical intervention."
Even worse, those who questioned overly restrictive public-health policy were demonized and accused of being murderers, literally sacrificing human lives to Mammon. I was supportive of lockdowns in the spring of 2020, and I maintain two years later that temporary stay-at-home orders were wise while we gathered data and tried to slow the spread of the disease. But even I was demonized as a murderer because I publicly questioned the wisdom of extended, months-long lockdowns while recognizing temporary lockdowns were wise.
See, this is what a cult looks like. You must agree 100% or you are a heretic. If you agree with pandemic mitigation measures most of the time but think there should be limits to those restrictions, you are an evil person. That is when it became clear to me that this was as much a religious crusade as it was about public health policy and balancing interests. I support public health policy, but I will not join a cult that demands 100% total loyalty and submission.
Lockdown apologists also failed to recognize the costs of their policy. If conservative Christians must admit they were wrong about the danger of COVID-19 to vulnerable populations, then lockdown apologists must admit the harm of their policies. Not only did schoolchildren fall far behind, but lockdowns led to spikes in deaths of despair. Suicide, alcoholism and overdoses all spiked during lockdowns, and the harmful effect depression has on physical health also harms both length and quality of life. Again, those of us who predicted this two years ago were demonized as murderers who put money over human life. Where is our apology? And again, I was mostly supportive of temporary lockdowns, and mask mandates after that.
Yes, those who completely dismissed the danger of COVID-19 were wrong, especially as we got deep into 2020. We had 60,000 deaths by May 1, and it would get significantly worse the following winter when we hit "cold and flu season." But this is a two-way street, and it is completely unreasonable to expect one side to admit wrong without expecting the other side to admit they were wrong about many things as well.
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